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Workshop to initiate the project : Coupled Natural-Human Systems and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Anthropogenic environmental change and avian influenza in Vietnam Hanoi University of Agriculture Hanoi, Vietnam November 8-11, 2009. Project Collaborators.

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Workshop to initiate the project:Coupled Natural-Human Systems and Emerging Infectious Diseases: Anthropogenic environmental change and avian influenza in VietnamHanoi University of AgricultureHanoi, VietnamNovember 8-11, 2009

project collaborators
Project Collaborators

Dr. Tran Duc Vien, Dr. Nguyen Huu Nam, Dr. Nguyen Thanh Lam, Dr. Ngyuen Thi Lan, Hanoi University of Agriculture; Dr. Jefferson Fox, Dr. Sumeet Saksena, Dr. Melissa Finucane, Dr. Zhe Li, East-West Center; Dr. Jim Spencer, Dr. Bruce Wilcox, Dr. Durrell Kapan, Dr. Ian Pagano, University of Hawaii at Manoa; Dr. Michael Epprecht, Swiss National Center of Competence in Research

  • Unraveling mechanisms that underlie new and reemerging infectious diseases (EID) requires exploring complex interactions within and among coupled natural and human (CNH) systems and poses one of the most difficult scientific problems facing society today (Wilcox and Colwell 2005).
project objectives
Project Objectives
  • To test the Wilcox-Colwell hypothesis that anthropogenic transformations such as urbanization, agricultural change, and natural habitat alteration affect the emergence and reemergence of infectious diseases. We will test this model in Vietnam using data collected at national, commune, and household scales.
  • To examine the influence of socio-ecological and socio-psychological variables on individuals' perceptions of and responses to the risk of HPAI in traditional, transitional, and modern communes.
objectives continued
Objectives (continued)
  • To integrate this study with education programs at the University of Hawaii including the Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT) program that focuses on “Integrative Training in Ecology, Conservation and Pathogen Biology”.
  • To establish collaboration among scientists from multiple disciplines and among U.S. institutions and partners from Vietnam and other countries in the Asia Pacific region. To develop activities that ensure research opportunities and mentoring for large numbers of students.
research questions
Research Questions
  • Urbanization
    • How do measures of urbanization and peri-urbanization assessed nationally at the commune level in the 1989 and 1999 censuses correlate with outbreaks of HPAI in poultry?
    • How do transition indices (TIs) of these measures correlate with HPAI in poultry?
    • How do these measures assessed in household and focus group interviews in 36 communes correlate with outbreaks of HPAI in these communes and households?
questions continued
Questions continued
  • Agricultural change
    • How do measures of agricultural change (both crop and livestock) assessed nationally at the commune level in the 2001 and 2006 agricultural censuses correlate with outbreaks of HPAI in poultry?
    • How do TIs of these measures correlate with HPAI in poultry?
    • How do these measures assessed in household and focus group interviews in 36 communes correlate with outbreaks of HPAI in these communes and households?
questions continued9
Questions continued
  • Habitat alteration
    • How do measures of changes in habitat alteration (wetlands) assessed nationally at the commune level from MODIS and AVHRR imagery (250 m to 1 km resolution) correlate with outbreaks of HPAI in poultry?
    • How do TIs of these measures correlate with HPAI in poultry?
    • How do these measures assessed in 36 communes from Aster imagery (15 m resolution) correlate with outbreaks of HPAI in these communes?
questions continued10
Questions continued
  • Risk perception
    • How do risk perceptions and protective behaviors correlate with observed risk (poultry deaths) as measured via a household survey administered in 36 communes?
    • What is the relative importance of socio-ecological and socio-psychological variables in determining perceptions of the risk of HPAI in poultry?
    • How do perceptions of and responses to HPAI risk vary across traditional, transitional, and modern settings?
theory social ecological systems and resilience sesr
Theory: Social ecological systems and resilience (SESR)
  • In a resilient forest ecosystem, for example, four phases of change repeat themselves again and again.
  • The first two phases, exploitation (the establishment of pioneering species) and conservation (the consolidation of nutrients and biomass), lead to an old growth forest or a climax community.
  • But this climax community invites environmental disturbances such as fire or disease. When surprise or change occurs, the accumulated capital is suddenly released producing other kinds of opportunity, termed creative destruction.
  • Release, a very rapid stage, is followed by reorganization in which, for example, nutrients released from the trees by the fire will be fixed in other parts of the ecosystem as the renewal of the forest starts again.
theory environmental risk transition
Theory Environmental Risk Transition
  • Smith (1990) proposed an environmental risk transition where the environmental factors leading to ill health were categorized as traditional or modern.
  • Traditional diseases are problems at the household level (e.g., water, sanitation, food availability and quality, ventilation and indoor air pollution).
  • Modern diseases tend to operate at the community level (i.e., urban air quality, occupational hazards, toxic chemicals and motorization).
  • A further transition occurs to increase the importance of environmental hazards at the global level (e.g., global warming, land-use change).
  • Line C is a Kuznet’s curve—economic development is not linear


Implementation of Theory

Combining Social ecological systems and resilience and risk transition theory

Disease Emergence = f

(Urbanization, Agricultural

Change and Habitat Alteration)


Traditional communities


Agricultural change


Risks of EID can be associated with transitions that occur as societies evolve from one relative state to another.

Habitat alteration

Modern communities

Transitional communities

EID Outbreak

theory how do people perceive explain and prioritize risks

Theory: How do people perceive, explain, and prioritize risks?

  • Risk perception is the subjective judgment that people make about the danger of a risky activity or technology
  • Major theories of risk perception fall into three main families:
    • Psychological approaches
    • Anthropological/ sociological approaches
    • Interdisciplinary approaches

Findings: How do people perceive, explain, and prioritize risks?

Key findings are based mostly on US/European research:

  • Risk is a social construct, meaning different things to different people
  • There are gaps between scientific and social rationality
  • Influential factors include:
    • hazard personalities
    • decision-maker characteristics
    • contextual factors
what do we know about avi in se asia
What do we know about AVI in SE Asia?
  • Interaction of poultry (particularly domestic ducks) in rice paddies is correlated with HPAI
  • Rice production intensity and density of domestic chickens and water birds is associated with HPAI:

rice-duck-chicken hypothesis

  • High density human population areas are correlated with HPAI risk
  • Minimal distance to the nearest national highway, annual precipitation, and the interaction between minimal distance to the nearest lake and wetland associated with risk of HPAI
  • Highest risks of HPAI are where extensive and intensive systems of poultry production co-exist
  • Poultry production and marketing systems, agricultural seasonality, potential for contacts between domestic and wild birds, and climatic and other conditions affecting the persistence of the virus in the environment need to be studied more.
spencer kuznet s curves and transition index
Spencer, Kuznet’s Curves and Transition Index
  • Vietnam’s 1999 Census of Population and Housing provides counts of households by housing construction materials (traditional/temporary or modern), water supply (stream, rain, well, piped), and sanitation infrastructure (none, pit, composting, flush).
  • Converted each of these 4-category, ranked urbanization measures into four distinct measures of settlement “coherence”.
  • For each coherence measure, greater mixing (i.e. incoherence) of the four categories was set to center on a value of zero, with more “traditional” settlements dominated by the least sophisticated (e.g. no toilet) category valued at (-1), and the most “modern” settlements dominated by the most sophisticated (e.g. running water) valued at (+1).
  • Working at the district level, Spencer plotted these three coherence indices, as well as a composite index combining the three, against the probability that a district in any of Vietnam’s provinces (including cities) had an outbreak of HPAI in 2004 or 2005.
transition index ti
This suggests that for the urbanization measure, at least those measures centered on water supply and sanitation, the basic function may be a Kuznets curve.

We intend to conduct similar exercises for agricultural change and habitat alteration.

We will develop transition indices for agricultural change and habitat alteration, plot them against the probability of HPAI outbreak, and choose the curve that best fits the data.

Transition Index (TI)

Vietnam District GIS Layer Obtained

  • based on 1999 Census
  • 611 admin units delineated
  • with unique district codes
  • with district and province names
  • used as master district ID list
  • IDs link AI, Census, & LC datasets

Phase I: SEM models of hypothesized relationships between HPAI outbreak and urbanization, habitat alteration, and agricultural change (both crop land and poultry) at the national level. Model 1 (solid lines) proposes an a priori SEM based on existing literature; model 2 (dashed lines) proposes an explanatory higher order factor.

phase ii
Phase II
  • Once we have explored the relationship between HPAI and urbanization, agricultural change, and habitat alteration at the national level, we will examine whether this relationship exists at commune and household scales using focus groups, interviews, and a structured household survey.
phase ii sampling frame
Phase II: Sampling Frame
  • The Vietnamese government divides the nation into 8 agroecological zones. In Phase II we will work in the four northern regions: Red River Delta, Northeast, Northwest, and the North Central Coast (32 provinces).
  • We will then use multistage sampling to select 9 communes in each of the 4 agroecological zones (3 communes in each transition state as established via the Overall TI in Phase I). We will limit our population to communes in which HPAI has resulted in birds dying.
phase ii sampling frame24
Phase II: Sampling Frame
  • In each selected commune we will randomly choose 30 households where we will administer a survey to heads of households (1080 total respondents).
  • Scientists at Hanoi University of Agriculture will organize and conduct these interviews and code the data into a spreadsheet.
  • We will also obtain medium or higher resolution remote sensing imagery (Landsat TM/ETM+, Aster, Ikonos, or Quickbird, depending upon availability for the 36 selected communes) for a more detailed analysis of habitat alterations, and we will use secondary data sources not available at the national level.
urbanization and peri urbanization
Urbanization and peri-urbanization
  • The commune survey will confirm census data on household-level infrastructures (i.e. water supply, sanitation, building materials) in basic counts.
  • Additional information will be collected at the household level on residents’ daily commute radii, frequency of visits to major urban centers, and changes in social and community-level interactions.
  • During this phase we will also collect commune level data on roads, urban-designated areas, and agriculturally zoned areas.
  • Our hypothesis is that households with intermediate forms of household infrastructure are more likely to be associated with HPAI outbreaks. We also hypothesize that more complex mosaics of urban and agriculturally zoned areas, and greater daily access to urban centers and markets are independently associated with higher HPAI outbreaks.
agricultural change and habitat alteration
Agricultural change and habitat alteration
  • We hypothesize that at the commune and household level outbreaks of HPAI can be modeled as a function of four constructs representing a well defined coupling of natural and human factors:
    • extent of water bodies,
    • water contamination (through livestock wastes),
    • density of farms and households,
    • domestic import and export of poultry


Land under


Land under



Distance to highway

Markey density

Road density

Chicken deaths

Extent of

Water bodies

Poultry manure

use in paddy

Poultry manure

use in aquaculture

Water contamination

Sectoral distribution

of poultry population

Free grazing

ducks deaths

Farm and

enterprise density

Pig manure

use in paddy

Pig manure

use in aquaculture

Domestic import/export of poultry

Number of free

grazing ducks

perceptions of risk and ecological social and psychological variables
Perceptions of risk and ecological, social and psychological variables
  • We hypothesize that perceived risk of HPAI in poultry will be correlated positively (though not perfectly) with observed risk (poultry deaths).
  • We also expect that perceived risk will be higher among individuals in transitional than other settings.
  • We further hypothesize that a significant amount of variance in risk perceptions can be accounted for by socio-ecological and socio-psychological factors.
  • We will examine whether the relative importance of outbreaks, socio-ecological factors, and socio-psychological factors in explaining risk perceptions varies across traditional, transitional, and modern settings.
  • Finally, we will examine the extent to which protective behaviors vary across traditional, transitional, and modern settings.
data commune and household level
Data: Commune and household level

Items measuring urbanization and peri-urbanization will include:

  • Population Density
  • Infrastructure Type
  • Infrastructure Diversity
  • Road Density and Road Connectivity
  • Daily Commute
  • Social Relationships and Capital
  • Industrial Economic Activities
  • Market Density and Urban Designation
data commune and household level31
Data: Commune and household level

Items measuring agricultural change and habitat alteration will include:

  • Extent of water bodies both agricultural (paddy and aquaculture) and natural (wetlands and rainfall)
  • Poultry raising and manure management practices
  • Housing and farm density
  • Domestic import/ export of poultry into commune
data commune and household level32
Data: Commune and household level

Items measuring perceived risk and related socio-psychological constructs will include:

  • Perceived risk
  • Protective behaviors
  • Efficacy
  • Knowledge
  • Affective Response
  • Worldviews and trust
  • Importance of information.
data commune and household level33
Data: Commune and household level

Items measuring outbreak and household demographics will include:

  • Household demographics and other characteristics.
  • Outbreaks.